Musical theatre / “Be More Chill”. Book by Joe Tracz. Music and lyrics by Joe Iconis. Directed by Glynis Stokes. Budding Entertainment, Gungahlin College Theatre to March 27. Reviewed by LEN POWER.
“BE More Chill” is a musical with original music and lyrics by Joe Iconis, and a book by Joe Tracz, based on the 2004 novel of the same name by Ned Vizzini.
A cast recording of the original regional American production entered the Billboard Cast Album chart Top 10 in 2017, leading to the show getting an Off-Broadway production in 2018. Subsequently, a Broadway production opened in March 2019 and clocked up 177 performances.
The show has been described as “a rocking sci-fi musical about growing up, high school, and what we will do to get what we want”.
An average, dorky teenager, Jeremy, discovers a super-computer, the SQIP, that promises him everything he desires. As his wishes come true, the super-computer starts to take control of everything he says and does.
There are two casts for this production. The “Red” cast, reviewed here, performed on opening night and will alternate with the “Green” cast for subsequent performances.
The casts are made up mostly of school-aged teenagers and many are doing their first-ever show outside of school.
On a bare stage with minimal set pieces, director Glynis Stokes has produced a highly enjoyable show with a large, enthusiastic cast of young performers in colourful costumes. The principal players bring a reality to their roles and sing the tuneful rock score very well.
The huge amount of choreography by Sally Taylor and Zoe Twist is performed by the large chorus with discipline and obvious enjoyment. The songs, “The Pitiful Children” and the finale, “Voices In My Head” were standouts.
In the marathon lead role of Jeremy, Fearghus Moore gives an endearing performance, acting and singing confidently. Jemima Phillips as Jeremy’s love interest, Christine, also gives a fine singing and acting performance.
The best song in the show, “Michael in the Bathroom” is sung by Andre Le who plays the troubled best friend of Jeremy. Le’s performance of this song is a showstopper, revealing a very talented young man with strong acting and singing ability.
Musical directors, Tara Davidson and Sebastian Winter, have done excellent work with the cast, obtaining fine singing from everyone. Sound balance between the singers and the recorded music needs a slight adjustment, as now and then it’s hard to hear lyrics clearly.
This is an entertaining show that has been well-produced and performed. They may all be young performers just starting out, but at the performance I saw, they showed that they all deserved to be on that stage.